Import substitution of software: challenges and opportunities for Russian business

In recent years, the Russian IT market has faced an unprecedented challenge: the largest international software manufacturers, such as Oracle, SAP, CISCO, Microsoft and many others, have begun to leave the Russian market en masse. This decision, prompted by a difficult political environment, left a significant mark on the country's IT infrastructure and placed new demands on the management of digital assets for both large and small enterprises.

In the face of these changes, an urgent need arose for import substitution—the search for or creation of domestic analogues of foreign software. The purpose of this article is to provide a general understanding of the current situation in the field of import substitution of software in Russia, to highlight the main challenges and opportunities faced by company managers at all levels.

Consequences of the departure of Western IT vendors

With the departure of such IT industry giants as Oracle, SAP, CISCO, Microsoft and many others, Russian business is faced with a number of critical problems. First, lack of vendor support means no security updates or functional improvements, which inevitably leads to increased cybersecurity risks and obsolete technology solutions.

Secondly, there is difficulty in migrating data from foreign cloud storage, which requires significant effort and resources to ensure the security and integrity of data during the migration process.

Finally, the termination of subscriptions and possible updates to existing services creates serious obstacles to the smooth operation of enterprises and the management of business processes.

These factors together emphasize the importance of finding reliable and effective alternatives within the national market that can ensure the stability and development of Russian business in new conditions.

The beginning of the movement towards import substitution

The history of import substitution in the Russian IT sector begins long before the current crisis, going back to 2014. It was then, in response to the first significant international sanctions, that Russia began to actively develop strategies to reduce its dependence on foreign software. The goal of these efforts was to ensure technological independence and security, as well as support and development of domestic software manufacturers.

In 2022, in light of new political circumstances, the issue of import substitution has become particularly relevant. The departure of foreign companies has accelerated the process of searching and implementing domestic alternatives, significantly increasing the demand for Russian software in various sectors of the economy.

First steps in import substitution: Russian analogues

One of the key steps towards import substitution was the creation of the Unified Register of Domestic Software and the Domestic Software Association. These initiatives made it possible to collect and systematize information about available Russian developments, facilitating the search for alternatives to foreign products for business and government agencies, although the vast majority of products included in this register were Russian only on formal grounds.

Among the successful examples of domestic software are the following:

AltLinux: Developer of “Basalt SPO”. A separate branch of development originating from RedHat Linux. One of the oldest Russian operating systems, developed taking into account the security requirements of Russian government agencies, is a full-fledged alternative to Western operating systems and is already widely used by government agencies and large corporations.

Astra Linux: It is a fork of Debian. A younger Russian operating system than AltLinux, but with many of its own developments, including its own security system developed from scratch for the Russian operating system.

TrueConf: A truly Russian product developed from scratch and is not tied to any open projects in the world and does not use any third-party libraries with unknown code inside in its code. today successfully displacing such monsters as CISCO, Polycom, Microsoft SfB, Microsoft Teems from the Russian market.

"My office": This suite of office applications from the New Cloud Technologies company almost successfully replaces Microsoft Office, providing users with ample opportunities for working with texts, spreadsheets, presentations and organizing team work.

Libercat: A Russian development from Bellsoft, which is an application server, an alternative to IBM and Oracle products, based on Apache Tomcat code.

PostgreSQL: The Russian database management system, created on the basis of PostgreSQL, offers flexible capabilities for working with large volumes of data and is already being used in large enterprises.

These developments demonstrate the significant potential of the Russian IT sector in creating competitive and high-quality products that can meet the needs of both the domestic and, possibly, international markets.

Cyber ​​Security: From Reaction to Action

In the context of the departure of foreign IT companies and the emphasis on import substitution, the field of information security in Russia is faced with new challenges and opportunities. Kaspersky Lab traditionally remains one of the key players in this field, whose products and solutions have long proven themselves both in the domestic and international markets.

Kaspersky Lab continues to play a leading role in developing and delivering innovative cybersecurity solutions. Examples include Kaspersky Security for mail servers and Kaspersky Security for Internet gateways. These products provide reliable protection for corporate networks and data, preventing threats associated with email and Internet traffic.

Kaspersky Security for Business is a comprehensive endpoint protection solution. It includes advanced tools for incident detection and response (EDR), as well as a wide range of functions for managing security and protecting against various types of cyber threats.

The importance of an integrated approach to import substitution

In the process of import substitution, special attention should be paid to an integrated approach. This is not only about choosing a domestic analogue of foreign software, but also about the competent integration of new solutions into the company’s existing business processes. Effective implementation of new software requires careful planning, taking into account the specifics of the company's activities and the potential impact on work processes.

One of the key aspects of a successful transition to domestic software is staff training. Users must clearly understand how to work with new systems and programs. This not only improves employee productivity, but also minimizes the risks associated with improper use of the software.

In addition, providing high-quality technical support for new solutions plays an important role. This allows you to quickly resolve emerging problems and issues, which, in turn, facilitates the process of adaptation to new software and helps maintain the continuity of business processes.

To summarize the above, it can be argued that the process of import substitution in Russia opens up new prospects for the local IT sector.

For Russian companies, this means the opportunity to obtain solutions that are more tailored to their needs, the opportunity to work closely with developers to refine products, and, of course, advantages in matters of cybersecurity.

We appeal to company leaders to actively study and implement domestic IT solutions at least for some services and/or workplaces. This is not only an important step in response to current challenges, but also an investment in the future of your business and the entire domestic economy.

This article is just the beginning of a series of materials devoted to the issues of import substitution of software in Russia. In subsequent publications we plan to consider in more detail specific aspects of this process: from analysis of individual industries and approaches to integrating new technologies into business processes to success stories of domestic developers and their products.

Follow the updates to stay up to date with the latest trends and get useful recommendations for optimizing your business in the new realities.

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